Meet the Council Leadership Team - Tauranga Chamber of Commerce

Meet the Council Leadership Team

Earlier this year, we hosted a breakfast session with the Tauranga City Council Leadership Team, facilitated by CEO Marty Grenfell. 

As part of the session, we got an insight into the team’s roles, a bit about their time pre-council and how they are involved in shaping the city. 

As there was much interest on the day, we’ve asked the team to share a bit more about themselves for everyone to get to know the leadership team. 

Head shot of Gareth Wallis
Gareth Wallis | General Manager: Community Services

Gareth Wallis has worked in a variety of local government leadership roles in Auckland and Tauranga for more than 20 years. He came to Tauranga City Council initially from a senior business development role at Auckland Live, New Zealand’s largest performing arts organisation.

Prior to that, he worked at Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development Limited (ATEED) as the Leverage and Legacy Manager for 2011 Rugby World Cup, and as the ATEED Event Production Manager.

Gareth’s role covers libraries, community development, Baycourt Community and Arts Centre, parks and recreation, urban space development, community amenity project delivery, city events, emergency management and civil defence, and council-controlled organisation governance. The Community Services group has just under 200 staff, all of whom are committed to delivering outstanding outcomes for the Tauranga community.

Gareth has a strong focus on building successful and engaged teams, and ensuring processes create accountability and transparency in decision-making. He values relationships and working collaboratively to build understanding so Council can better deliver on the community’s needs and aspirations.

Gareth has a background in the performing arts – as a professional musician for nearly 10 years, in event management (working in a variety of event delivery and event management roles) and also in emergency management, in particular on a practical level as a Fire and Emergency New Zealand volunteer for nearly 20 years.

Gareth and his partner were born and bred in Tauranga and love being ‘back home’ with their two intermediate school-aged children, and being close to their extended family.

Nic Johansson | General Manager: Infrastructure

Nic Johansson is a Chartered Professional Engineer (civil). Originally from Sweden, he spent his early career working on civil engineering projects across four continents, before moving to New Zealand 20 years ago. After working in private sector roles for Fulton Hogan and Downer, he joined Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, where he specialised in road safety activities.

Nic joined the council in July 2019 to lead our Infrastructure group, which looks after the city’s water supply, wastewater and stormwater networks, sustainability and waste, transportation, asset information and infrastructure delivery.

His approach to infrastructure planning, delivery and operation is to focus on continuously lifting the capability, capacity and decision-making discipline of the organisation to meet the complex and growing demands of our city. Foremost amongst Nic’s priorities are safety, sustainability, meeting community needs and expectations, tangata whenua and value for money.  

He and his wife have lived in Tauranga for six years. They have one daughter at Otago University and one daughter at home, studying in year 11. They enjoy life in the Bay, getting into surfing, tramping and bike rides. Nic has also been known to wet a fly line from time to time.

Head shot of Barbra Dempsey
Barbara Dempsey | General Manager: Regulatory and Compliance

Barbara Dempsey has worked in local government for more than 20 years, most of that time at general manager level, leading teams in Ruapehu, Opotiki and Whakatane before joining TCC in early-2019. Her areas of responsibility have included project management, change management, regulatory, community services and customer services.

Her Regulatory role at Tauranga City Council covers building consents, environmental health, liquor licensing, animal control, parking, general bylaws enforcement, resource consents and compliance with the Tauranga City Plan. 

Barbara’s approach to her role is about facilitation and enabling sustainable development, while ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the community through the implementation of the City Plan, Building Act and other relevant legislation. She enjoys the diversity of the role, especially working with our community to find solutions that balance people’s needs, while ensuring legislation is adhered to.

She has found previous roles in Civil Defence, in particular leading response and recovery after emergency situations and assisting families at the most stressful of times, have also been extremely rewarding, grounding and humbling.

Since Barbara and her husband moved to Tauranga last year, they have been exploring the many wonderful walking tracks around the city. Tauranga is closer to their children and grandchildren, which is an added bonus. 

Christine Jones | General Manager: Strategy and Growth

Christine Jones has worked in senior management roles in Tauranga City Council since 2001. Her varied experience covers strategic and corporate planning, growth management, infrastructure, land use and urban planning.

In her current role, Christine is responsible for:

  • Strategy and Corporate Planning
  • City and Infrastructure Planning
  • SmartGrowth
  • Strategic Investment and Commercial Advisory
  • Economic Development

She has been involved in the SmartGrowth project for many years and has lead responsibility in Tauranga City Council for the integrated planning of our city’s future and growth (including funding, land use and infrastructure). She enjoys tackling the many challenges presented by our rapidly growing city. 

Christine has also had a significant involvement in local government sector best practice work covering financial management, planning and accountability, and business performance, amongst other subjects. 

Projects she has played a key role in include the University of Waikato Tertiary Campus, the transfer of Route K (and its associated debt) to NZ Transport Agency, and the current Transport System Plan. 

Christine and her husband have two adult children and share active interests in dancing (both ballroom and Latin) and hot rod cars.

Head shot of Paul Davidson
Paul Davidson | General Manager: Corporate Services

Paul Davidson has over 30 years’ experience in finance and industrial relations in Australia and New Zealand, in both the private and public sectors. He is a fellow with the Australian Society of Certified Practicing Accountants and has worked at Tauranga City Council since 2004.

Paul leads the council’s finance, digital, property, legal and commercial teams and is also responsible for Tauranga Airport and the marine precinct. Since joining TCC, he has been extensively involved in long-term planning for the city and looking for new and innovative ways to finance and fund infrastructure. H is also a Civil Defence Alternate Local Controller for the Western Bay of Plenty Region.

His previous experience includes working in finance and industrial relations roles for Price Waterhouse Coopers, Ansett Airlines and CPA Australia.  He moved to Tauranga in 2004, continuing to work for CPA Australia for a period of time, then working in the kiwifruit industry before joining council.


Currently, he is working closely with central Government and other NZ growth councils on alternative ways to finance and fund councils and ensure we have a sustainable delivery model for infrastructure which ensures issues of housing supply and affordability are addressed.

Much of Paul’s free time in Australia was spent on long distance triathlon, which he continued after shifting to Tauranga.  Nowadays, he spends more time long distance paddle boarding, mountain biking and enjoying the Bay of Plenty’s active lifestyle.

Susan Jamieson | General Manager: People and Engagement

The teams within Susan Jamieson’s group are focused on supporting our people to deliver for the organisation and supporting our community to engage effectively with Council.

Before joining TCC in June 2019, Susan worked across the private and public sectors, with the bulk of her career in Human Resources roles for Airways NZ, Lion Nathan, TVNZ, Kiwi Property and Colmar Brunton. Following a period as Head of Human Resources for Kiwi Property, she transitioned to shopping centre management, managing LynnMall and Sylvia Park in Auckland.

 Since joining TCC, much of her time has been spent listening to and understanding the community the organisation.

One of her significant challenges is closing the disconnect she sees between the committed, motivated people within the organisation, and what the community understands of the work they do, with a key focus being to support council teams in sharing their passion with the community.

As an example of staff commitment, Susan cites a recent situation where the Waste team mobilised to search through rubbish to find and return a set of teeth lost in a Papamoa rubbish bin to a very grateful owner. She’s also very proud of her team winning the local government Customer Contact Centre of the Year Award in 2019; and of the organisations’ response to COVID-19.

Moving to Tauranga for her role has been a real bonus for Susan and her family, bringing them closer to their extended families. Their ‘do-up’ in Tauriko occupies much of their weekends, in addition to exploring their new home and region.

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